I'm a pole dancer and not afraid to say it
Pole dancing. Whether you think it’s sleazy or sporty, there’s no denying the level of strength required to contort the body into those shapes. Besides, who doesn’t wish they could slink sultrily around a pole a la Kate Moss in that White Stripes video. One can dream.
Now it’s even being recognised as a sport that’s one step closer to qualifying for Olympic status. To help obliterate the stereotype that pole dancing is just strip-teasing, DOSE is joined by engineering graduate turned fitness instructor and pole artist, Tara Margulies…
Tell us a bit about your background…
I was always good at maths and physics at school, so engineering seemed like the right path for me. It was by the end of my first year at UCL that I realised that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Whilst still doing what I needed to do to pass, I went out searching for what I did like to do.
I joined Boom Cycle back in my second year of uni in 2013 and have continued teaching classes in various different locations since.
After leaving university I was lucky enough to get my first job working for a fit-tech start up in a marketing role. This started out as an experiment since I’d never done any marketing previously, but it turned out to be great fun so I stuck with it.
Now a few years on I work freelance for a few different companies, helping them with all things branding and marketing. The DJing is currently just a hobby but I’d eventually love to do a bit more with it.
How has pole dancing tested your strength, flexibility and co-ordination?
One of the things I love most about pole dance is that it tests each of those three things equally. We build strength to keep spinning, climbing and muscling ourselves into different positions, we work on flexibility to help us get into some shapes and make them look graceful.
Co-ordination is necessary to remember each step involved in getting into those positions, as well as remembering pretty combos and routines.
I was fortunate enough to have started my pole journey having worked all three before in different sports, but I honestly can’t believe how much they’ve all improved in the last three years.
When you were young you were a keen gymnast. How has this influenced your calisthenics training?
The few years of gymnastics I did when I was aged 8 to 13 have definitely given me a bit of an advantage. Learning to tumble and throw myself around on a mat when I was young and fearless has definitely given me more confidence when it comes to doing such things now.
That being said, I was never able to hold a handstand back then, I’ve learned all of what I know about hand balancing solely in the last few years, with a big nod to Sammy Dinneen.
Who do you admire most in the fitness industry and why?
I mostly admire athletes that are fantastic at their sport. I’ve been lucky enough to learn so much from all the amazing athletes that I’ve met over the years, and I’m still always pleasantly surprised by how humble and eager to help these people are.
I also have a bit of admiration for anyone who has the confidence to go out and pursue their dreams, not only in our industry.
Should we ditch weights for yoga and pole?
You should ditch movement you don’t like for movement that you love. The biggest revelation that I’ve had was ditching the mentality of exercising to look a certain way and adopting a much healthier approach of training to get better at my sport.
Annoyingly, I can’t tell you exactly how that happened… I think it came from a combination of maturity, and finding sports that I’ve been passionate about.
What do you think about the Global Association of International Sports Federation granting pole dancing “observer status”?
It’s about time! I’ve definitely felt personally that on the whole, people’s attitudes towards the sport have been changing in the last few years. When I first started I was very careful about telling people that I practiced pole, because I was never sure of what they’d think (read more about this over on my blog)
Now I feel that overall it is becoming more accepted as a sport rather than something reserved for strip clubs. We’ve still got a bit of a way to go but hopefully this “observer status” will help. I’m not expecting it to become an olympic sport any time soon, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
“You should ditch movement you don’t like for movement that you love”
Can you describe a typical weekend…
18.30: Pole choreo class at Ecole De Pole with Rachel Tolzman, one of the highlights of the week!
9.00: Cup of tea in bed, courtesy of my other half, followed by breakfast and quick emails.
10.30: Quick run though my playlist for the days spin class at Core Collective (see Rebekah’s brilliant piece for more on those struggles).
11.00: On my little Ridgeback commuter bike and off to teach at Core Collective.
13.00: High on endorphins and ready for a quick shower then back home to get ready.
14.00: Burgers have been ordered from Honest as pre day party grub, the aim is to get a good amount of calories in before spending hours stood up dancing. This is when the G&Ts start flowing too.
15.00: Music is on loud, party clothes are on, hair is done, glitter is most probably being applied… Another G&T is poured.
15.30: Heading off to whatever venue we’re going to be in for the next 4-8 hours, dancing, smiling and laughing (plus a few more G&Ts).
Sunday: Some sort of takeaway and probably a Harry Potter marathon.
Day events are my favourite. I enjoy being able to go out in the afternoon and get home before midnight. It means I get to enjoy my Sunday rather than spend most of it in bed. Sunday is very much my day of rest.
I spend my week running around quite a lot, clocking on average four hours a week on my commuter bike, plus about four pole sessions, the couple of spin classes that I teach and a few hours of yoga.
My Saturdays will usually be jam packed before the party starts too (I often end up having ‘walked’ 20km+ on a Saturday, according to my Health App). I tend to play a little game with myself and see how little I can move from the sofa on Sunday, it’s great.
This also means that by Monday, I’m ready to take on the week and already looking forward to the next weekend.
“Balance doesn’t have to mean everything in moderation”
What is your favourite restaurant/bar in London and why?
I actually have a spreadsheet that I keep for this, like my own personal trip adviser. I’m a big foodie, so I’m always looking for new restaurants to eat at and I try to make sure that I document as much as possible so that I can remember if I want to go back to a restaurant I’ve previously visited or not.
My favourite restaurants change all the time, as for bars I’ll quite rarely go out just for a drink. I’ll either drink wine or cocktails at restaurants with food or make them at home (I make a brilliant whiskey sour, and a pretty good margarita too!).
Balance doesn’t have to mean everything in moderation. It can also mean juggling your extremes so that everything works out in the end. There are so many different ways to find balance. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.